Facebook independent oversight board widens reach

There are changes coming to the independent Facebook oversight board.

Facebook users will soon be able to request the oversight board rule on content that is still up on Facebook and Instagram, not just content that has already been taken down, according to a blog post published on Tuesday.

The change is a key expansion of the oversight board's reach, which had previously been criticized by researchers and civil rights groups for not going far enough to tackle harmful content and misinformation.

The revised process will allow any user or Facebook employee to potentially petition the independent board to review any content.

Before the change that will begin rolling out Tuesday and expanded in coming weeks, Facebook and Instagram users who disagreed with the social network's decision to remove content could be bumped up to the oversight board, only after they had exhausted the company's appeals process....that, however, did not apply to content that was still visible, only Facebook could ask the board to review that.

Rulings made by the board are binding and can overturn decisions made by Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but the number of appeals it reviews is small. Since the board starting meeting in October, it's only ruled on seven of the more than 300,000 appeals requested. That number is now expected to increase.

There are watchful eyes on the board. It is expected to decide in coming weeks whether to maintain Facebook's indefinite suspension of former president Donald Trump, which was put in place after the January attack on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters.